Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Profile of the Jaquet-Droz: master watch, clock, and automata makers

If you missed this video the other day over at the excellent Spiel und Kunst mit Mechanik blog, it is a must see. The film documents some of the achievements of the famous Jaquet-Droz family of watchmakers.

The list of accomplishments outlined in this 13 minute film is astounding. Among other things, the Jaquet-Droz are credited with:

  • The first sing bird autoamta
  • The first singing bird watch
  • The self-winding watch
  • The Writer automaton
  • The Draftsman automaton
  • The Musician automaton
  • The pump winding system for watches

This is only a partial list to which we must add numerous advances in watchmaking technology, and supreme artistry in the aesthetic elements of watches and clocks. Finally, though the film does not mention it, Henri Maillardet, creator of the drawing automaton that was the inspiration for the one in the film Hugo, spent time as a young man working in Pierre Jaquet-Droz's workshop. Maillardet doubtless learned much of what he needed to know to build his own drawing automaton from the Jaquet-Droz.

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